The seminary of conversation…

Posted: November 13, 2010 in christian living, ecclesia
Tags: , , ,

Taken from http://dhcosbyfamily.blogspot.com/  [blog is no longer active]

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…” (Colossians 3:16)

The Early Church had no seminaries. They had no bible schools, no institutions of higher Christian learning… nothing that would resemble the sorts of the places that we take for granted today as the way in which people are to learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the scriptures (in any “serious” way)…

So what did they do? How did the good news of Jesus not become irrevocably warped or lost after the death of the apostles, if there was nothing offered in the way of seminary education? How did people get taught?

Much has been said about how the scripures teach that we are to love one another, and bear one another’s burderns, (and that is of course very true, and very important), but the scripture teaches us that we are to teach and admonish one another as well… But what does that mean?

Does that mean we take turns leading a bible study, or teaching a Sunday School class, or preaching sermons? Maybe…. But maybe it means that we are to teach each other through something as simple as conversation, where the scriptures are delved into, and allowed to speak, and the Spirit is welcomed as the one who ultimately teaches all things. The kind of conversation where there is no clear study topic, no five-point outline, no clever acronyms…

These kinds of conversations are unpredictable, and can sometimes become fairly intense. Often there will be different perspectives on things, or even flat-out disagreements. Emotions can get involved, and feelings can be hurt. Those who are naturally averse to confrontational situations can be made to feel very uncomfortable, and those who are more prone to jump in and debate at the drop of a hat face a very real temptation in these kinds of settings. There is plenty of room for things to go awry. This kind of conversational teaching can be messy, to say the least. But from personal experience, we will say this;

We have been more sharpened, more humbled, more encouraged, and more edified through it than through any other approach to “teaching” that we have been exposed to…

The difference, it would seem, is that this kind of teaching happens through the context of relationships… And relationships themselves, are often messy, unpredictable things But there is a payoff at the end that is worth it for those who stick it out. Most of us understand this in terms of relationships such as marriage or children, we learn through living life together, by learning as we go… But in regards to learning in the Body, it would seem that this has more or less become a lost art, especially when it comes to “admonish one another”

Today, in our culture of tolerance, admonishing isn’t regarded too highly. And nobody likes being corrected by their brother or sister. None of us like to be shown that we are in the wrong, whether in our beliefs, or in how we are living our life. But the Bible tells us that we are here to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) This verse may sound straight-forward enough, until you actually start trying to spur on your brothers and sisters! Because to “spur someone on” towards love and good deeds”, often infers that what someone is currently doing is not so loving, and not such a good deed… And so of course, there is often resistance. There is again friction. Someone is accused of being judgemental. Another is accused of not speaking in love. People get offended. Sigh…. Wouldn’t it just easier in the end to go and passively sit and listen to a sermon beside one another, and not talk? Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to go pay tuition to sit and listen to a professor give a lecture, and limit our reaction to a written thesis?

Sure, it would be easier… But then again, our marriage would be a lot “easier” if we decided to never talk about anything controversial, never try and teach other, and never, ever admonish each other… We could live as co-spectators, and only engage with one another over pleasant topics, and lighter things. We could live in seperate, safe bubbles from one another, and would end up not working through any of our differences. We could do that, but in the end, we would not be of much good to one another. We would not be helping each other to grow. We would be wasting the incredible potential of the relationship that God has given us as husband and wife…

So are we willing to take the risks, and work through the inevitable difficulties, in order to experience the riches of being taught and admonished by each other in the Body of Christ, instead of relying on the work of a professional few? Is the Holy Spirit capable of teaching us and overcoming all our weaknesses, so that we might be more mature in our faith, and of more use to Him as a result? Can conversation that is led by the Holy Spirit, really be an effective vehicle to learning what it means to be a follower of Jesus?

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Comments
  1. ketch22 says:

    Nice post… this is what happens and should happen at small group as well. We hold each other accountable in this intimate setting. Thanks for posting.

  2. fleebabylon says:

    “Thank you for a wonderful description of of the realness of life. I think the institutional church inadvertently creates a very artificial and wierd community.”

    I read this comment about this article on a forum. The institutional church creates a wierd community – it may not be the most technical theoligcal statment I have read but it is SO TRUE. Think of the subtle shifts in your thinking, emotions, and behavior when you walk into an IC service as opposed to walking into a close friends house for dinner. I know this well from past experience, it is kind of creepy how similar the evangelical service is to the roman catholic mass. They just call everything a different name. Many evangelicals will rightly speak against the roman catholic church but they are part of the new roman catholic church.

  3. Sean Scott says:

    “Someone is accused of being judgemental. Another is accused of not speaking in love. People get offended. Sigh…. Wouldn’t it just easier in the end to go and passively sit and listen to a sermon beside one another, and not talk? Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to go pay tuition to sit and listen to a professor give a lecture, and limit our reaction to a written thesis?”

    So true, and that is what the church has become.

  4. Sean Scott says:

    “Nice post… this is what happens and should happen at small group as well.”

    I used to be in small groups in the church I attended years ago. I kinda funny how churches form small groups to “do” the church/fellowship that they should really be doing and encouraging on Sunday. They are just unwilling to let go of their unbiblical roman-esq traditions. In fact, the church I used to attend used to say that “church/fellowship” really happened in the small groups and that you needed to be a part of one. So if that is the “real” church then what’s the program for on Sunday?

  5. ian vincent says:

    Hi you guys. One reason that christendom naturally steered away from the NT model was the problem of the carnal loud-mouthed opinionated man (or woman): what do you do with him? If you allow freedom, he will dominate, he will take over the church.

    No one likes confrontation. And such spoils the atmosphere of the Spirit, where there is love. So, the easist way to avoid confrontation, and trouble, is to herd the sheep along a traditional program, rejecting the NT pattern.

    But how many stop to think that if we don’t know how to deal with and minimize confrontation, and we don’t have the strength of character to lovingly and firmly deal with the carnal man, then that only shows our immaturity.

  6. ian vincent says:

    “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…” (Colossians 3:16)
    .
    .
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    This is such a blessing, to be reminded of. Thanks.

    • ian vincent says:

      Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

      The full verse.

      • ian vincent says:

        Admonishing each other by singing songs of admonition to each other.

        Where are such songs today??

        A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down? I’m half kidding.

        Btw, i thought the article was good. Like, real life Church and not a performance with spectators.

        The transition from the mealy-mouthed artificial trip to speaking honestly can be painful.

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